Over recent weeks and months, Facebook seems to have an influx of fake coupons and prize draw give aways. This can be very troubling news for both consumers and retailers that get caught up in these scams.
As it happens, liking, sharing and taking part in these free coupon surveys is actually a really bad idea. Many people share coupons and giveaways even after being aware that they are in fact probably fake, but regardless share it anyway under the premise that if it’s not real there’s no harm done in simply sharing a post.
What often goes un-noted is that they have just shared some of their social media account information with a scammer/spammer – not only that but they have also exposed their family and friends to the same risk. Many UK police departments have issued local warnings to raise awareness pleading with locals to stop sharing the fake coupons.
Generally there are two ways that spammers can use these fake coupons and discounts to scam unsuspecting consumers, these are;
Installing Malware on Your Computer
CNET explains that a coupon image on Facebook shouldn’t be confused with the kinds of printable coupons that are available – it’s likely just an image that someone has either uploaded or used photo editing software to create. When you click the available link to receive your coupon, you’re taken away to a bogus website you’ve never heard of – not the company website, and the next thing you know (or don’t know), is the site is installing something nefarious on your laptop.
The most common malware in these situations is the kind that steals sensitive information from your device such as bank details and sensitive passwords. A lesser common malware referred to as “ransomware” locks down your computer and demands an online payment to regain full access.
A Survey to Nowhere
When you click on the image of the coupon on Facebook (or whichever social media site you’re using), it takes you again not to the retailer’s website, but to a nondescript, badly designed survey page, on a site that you’ll again never have heard of. If your first instinct wasn’t to immediately say “NOT TODAY” and hit the back button, then you’ll find yourself completing survey after survey. Yet you’ll never actually get to the point where you receive your promised coupon or gift card, of course, but the spammers, get paid for every completed survey, are able to make a small fortune off you, and possibly get enough information out of you to retrieve some passwords or gain access to your accounts, too. They can also sell all information you have given to them such as phone numbers, email addresses and postal addresses to third party collectors – meaning you’ll receive an influx of marketing campaigns and possibly fall prey to more scams.
It’s important to remember that the only safe coupon is a verified coupon. If it sound too good to be true then it probably is – coupons were created to give you discounts, so if a coupon promises £100 worth of absolutely free shopping then it’s safe to say it’s a scam. Businesses don’t give away hundred of pounds to hundreds of Facebook users for no reason as it would probably put them out of business.
Here are our top tips for ensuring you don’t get scammed;
- Check the name and legitimacy of the site before clicking any links.
- Check the retailer’s website and social media accounts to see if they have any connected posts to the coupon.
- Look out for links to the retailer’s website – even if the coupon does not come directly from the retailer it WILL provide a link to the retailer.
- Don’t pay for anything. If it costs money to get the coupon, then it’s not legitimate.
- There will be an expiration date on the coupon if there isn’t it’s most likely a scam.
- If you stumble upon a coupon that you have to print out that looks as though it has been photocopied then run in the other direction.
- Check the CIC website http://www.couponinformationcenter.com/psa-list.php to see if the coupon appears on their list of counterfeit coupons, if so, you know what to do.
- As with everything you find, purchase or receive online, reviews are key, they will always be.
To help you avoid some of these social media scams, we’ve listed some UK stores that did not create the particular coupons pictured below.
Iceland – Free £80 to spend in store
Aldi – Free £85 to Spend in Celebration of their 85th Anniversary
Waitrose – Free £75 to Celebrate their 112th Anniversary
Lidl – Free £750 to Spend in Stores (lidl ireland)
Aldi – 40% in all Stores in The Christmas Season
McDonald’s – Lifetime Pass for their 61st Anniversary
If you can’t take our word for it, then ask the retailer on their own Facebook page for a confirmation. We can assure you, the last thing that any retailer wants is for you to find a fake coupon and be both disappointed and embarrassed in the checkout line, as you get turned down trying to use a fake coupon. It just makes everyone involved look bad, and can make many people feel very uneasy. So retailers are always happy to give you the scoop if you ask. In fact, if you have a quick scan through their “Posts to Page” section before you ask, you’ll most than likely find at a few others who have been asking about the freebie in question, along with the retailer’s reply.
If you want to avoid seeing these kinds of scams on your news feed maybe it’s time you had a clear out of you “Liked Pages” if there’s something in there you don’t recognize or no longer care about, unlike it immediately. Many Facebook pages can often be sold once they hit a certain level of popularity – more than likely being bought out by companies hoping to run these kinds of scams
It’s far too easy in this day and age to mindlessly hit a Share or a Like button without considering the source or who it is that’s really behind the post. There’s a ton of bad info out there. That’s why it’s important to know what it is you have on your social media accounts. And if you’re curious about a coupon, just ask us!
The biggest way to avoid having these posts appear on your timeline – is if you see one of your Facebook contacts falling for a fake coupon scam, share our article with them. The more we educate ourselves as savvy social media users, the better protected everyone will be.
Drop us a line in the comments section below to let us know if you’ve spotted any fake coupon scams in your social media accounts.